D&D General DM Says No Powergaming?

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
As long as the party are all around the same level, who cares what that power level is? Does the DM run out of dragons or something?

I've both played with and run for groups that are very casual, and groups that are all dire powergamers. They have in common they make memorable and fun characters and roleplay well, because that's what I require. When I play with casual groups, I adjust my character making to match their level. Or perhaps I will optimize towards making other PCs shine.

Now, I do have issues if there is a big power gap, either more or less powerful, between the group. In there I'll have a conversation if appropriate.

But if the group all want to be at the same power level, the idea of "no powergaming" from a DM is literally "I don't know how/want to do my job and balance for a more powerful party".

A DM telling an entire group to tone it down is a red flag of a poor DM, or maybe a lazy DM running a pre-made module they think doesn't need to be customized to their party. A DM talking to one or a minority of players because they are out of line with the rest of the group is a sign of a good DM.
 

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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
As long as the party are all around the same level, who cares what that power level is? Does the DM run out of dragons or something?

I've both played with and run for groups that are very casual, and groups that are all dire powergamers. They have in common they make memorable and fun characters and roleplay well, because that's what I require. When I play with casual groups, I adjust my character making to match their level. Or perhaps I will optimize towards making other PCs shine.

Now, I do have issues if there is a big power gap, either more or less powerful, between the group. In there I'll have a conversation if appropriate.

But if the group all want to be at the same power level, the idea of "no powergaming" from a DM is literally "I don't know how/want to do my job and balance for a more powerful party".

A DM telling an entire group to tone it down is a red flag of a poor DM, or maybe a lazy DM running a pre-made module they think doesn't need to be customized to their party. A DM talking to one or a minority of players because they are out of line with the rest of the group is a sign of a good DM.
So the DM's feelings about how powerful the party is are irrelevant and shouldn't be considered. I saw that you focused on player power and require the DM to adjust to them or risk being labeled as "bad". Is that fair?
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
So the DM's feelings about how powerful the party is are irrelevant and shouldn't be considered.

The DM sets just about ALL the parameters for any given adventure/campaign. But not taking into account the preferences of your players is a quick path to disgruntlement and dissolution
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
As long as the party are all around the same level, who cares what that power level is? Does the DM run out of dragons or something?

I've both played with and run for groups that are very casual, and groups that are all dire powergamers. They have in common they make memorable and fun characters and roleplay well, because that's what I require. When I play with casual groups, I adjust my character making to match their level. Or perhaps I will optimize towards making other PCs shine.

Now, I do have issues if there is a big power gap, either more or less powerful, between the group. In there I'll have a conversation if appropriate.

But if the group all want to be at the same power level, the idea of "no powergaming" from a DM is literally "I don't know how/want to do my job and balance for a more powerful party".

A DM telling an entire group to tone it down is a red flag of a poor DM, or maybe a lazy DM running a pre-made module they think doesn't need to be customized to their party. A DM talking to one or a minority of players because they are out of line with the rest of the group is a sign of a good DM.
While we are staking out the no true scottsman shaped boundaries of what of a real GM does can you list off the tools that 5e includes for the gm to use with that? Past editions had tools that allowed the GM to finesse monsters encounters & even individual PC strengths to the needs of their group like DR SR Magic item churn bonus type/slot conflicts plausible odds of lethality & even the extra wiggle room provided by iterative/multi attack penalties.. 5e seems rather lacking
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
While we are staking out the no true scottsman shaped boundaries of what of a real GM does can you list off the tools that 5e includes for the gm to use with that? Past editions had tools that allowed the GM to finesse monsters encounters & even individual PC strengths to the needs of their group like DR SR Magic item churn bonus type/slot conflicts plausible odds of lethality & even the extra wiggle room provided by iterative/multi attack penalties.. 5e seems rather lacking


IME, 5e has to plenty of tools for a DM to challenge players.

The problem is, they are spelled out poorly and a new/inexperienced DM is unlikely to know about many of them, much less how to use them to good effect.
 

jgsugden

Legend
D&D is a role playing game. Characters play a role in a story. When you read/watch stories that are not RPGs, you can see that there are characters with different levels of effectiveness and capability in the story. You can have the Hulk and Iron Man fighting alongside Hawkeye and Black Widow.

The trick for the DM is to make sure the game is interesting for all the players. That means giving all the PCs something important to do, and something important to become.

If there is a powerhouse PC in the group, they have a chance to show a spotlight in combat. They probably really like having that spotlight. Let them. The game works at a variety of power levels, and you don't need to threaten the lives of the PCs in every combat to run a good game. Let them be that overpowered force of nature ...

... and let the other characters be the centers of the story. Tie their PCs into the action. Have the NPCs take an interest in them. Add the magic item that is well suited for their PC.

This works. It works real well. There is a point where a PC can just break a game and make it very hard for any DM to run a game - but I have yet to see any 5E PC that is anywhere near that broken.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
D&D is a role playing game. Characters play a role in a story. When you read/watch stories that are not RPGs, you can see that there are characters with different levels of effectiveness and capability in the story. You can have the Hulk and Iron Man fighting alongside Hawkeye and Black Widow.

The trick for the DM is to make sure the game is interesting for all the players. That means giving all the PCs something important to do, and something important to become.

If there is a powerhouse PC in the group, they have a chance to show a spotlight in combat. They probably really like having that spotlight. Let them. The game works at a variety of power levels, and you don't need to threaten the lives of the PCs in every combat to run a good game. Let them be that overpowered force of nature ...

... and let the other characters be the centers of the story. Tie their PCs into the action. Have the NPCs take an interest in them. Add the magic item that is well suited for their PC.

This works. It works real well. There is a point where a PC can just break a game and make it very hard for any DM to run a game - but I have yet to see any 5E PC that is anywhere near that broken.
There is a point where the juice ain’t worth the squeeze and I’m putting too much effort into pleasing a single person. Sometimes your best friends make the worst gamers.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
IME, 5e has to plenty of tools for a DM to challenge players.

The problem is, they are spelled out poorly and a new/inexperienced DM is unlikely to know about many of them, much less how to use them to good effect.
If we were to assume that "5e has plenty of tools for a DM" it's hard not to notice that you didn't actually name any of them. Are you praising the bounty of tools 5e provides GMs while in the group "unlikely to know about many of them" or was it just a case of hitting post too quick?
 

jgsugden

Legend
There is a point where the juice ain’t worth the squeeze and I’m putting too much effort into pleasing a single person. Sometimes your best friends make the worst gamers.
If your significant other is hanging out with someone that you know they're attracted to, there is a lot of ways to look at it.

You can decide not to trust that significant other, tell them you need them to stop socializing with that attractive person to save your relationship, etc... You can say, "Hey, cool, I trust you - but that is the type of thing that can catch you off guard. Be honest with me if something unexpected happens." You can quietly say to yourself, "Well, if you're going to do that, I've got a chance to hang out with Jean and see what might be possible there. Jean is hot and I think Jean has a thing for me."

What does this have to do with powergaming? There are a lot of potential outcomes, and one of the biggest factors in how it plays out is how you respond to the situation. You're deciding where it is no longer worth squeezing that fruit for juice. There may be plenty of juice in that fruit for everyone to enjoy when you decide to give up the squeeze if you have the right tools to get it.

In my experience, the DMs that struggle the most with powergamers are the ones that treat D&D as oppositional rather than cooperative. They get frustrated (or fudge the dice/numbers) when the PCs get some lucky strikes in and take down a foe 'too easily'. They feel that the game needs the PCs to be vulnerable to their threats in order for the game to work. At the core, they feel the players are cheating - and they may not realize it, but they mean the players are cheating against the DM.

The DMs that do not struggle with powergamers tend to be the ones that let the PCs shine. They let the high powered PC be devastating in combat. They look to things other than survival as the core challenges of the game. Don't get me wrong - they still have some battles where the PCs have their hands full surviving - but the PCs spend more time trying to achieve a goal than they do trying to survive to the end of the battle. The PCs feel like heroes from comics that you know will survive, but might fail to save someone, might fail to prevent the tragedy, etc... Those are great stories to experience because your PCs do feel powerful and heroic - and still have actual chances of truly failing in a combat without having to build a new PC.

D&D absolutely works over a broad spectrum of power levels unless someone obstructs it. That 'obstruction to fun' is usually a DM that is trying to control the game tightly. It can be players, too, but usually it is that DM that just wants to have "their" fun by making sure the PCs/play3ers can see how awesome they can build an encounter.

To that end, my suggestion to DMs that have powergamers at their table is: Don't see it as a problem. See it is a tool. Figure out how to use their effectiveness as part of good storytelling and to create challenges for the group that allow them to shine and risk failures, even if their survival is never at stake. The DMs that make that leap tend to find their players get more engaged, get more involved, and are happier with the overall experience. YMMV - but is usually doesn't when people really make the leap.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
The DM sets just about ALL the parameters for any given adventure/campaign. But not taking into account the preferences of your players is a quick path to disgruntlement and dissolution
If you choose to play a character who gets their power from an outside source in my game, I as the DM have no problem making that fact affect the character.
 


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